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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)


Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Teri Garr

There are few movies in life that take your breath away. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is one of those movies. There are moments during this movie where you lose yourself. I found myself thinking of only the scene I was watching unfold in front of me. It takes a special kind of person to create a movie like this and that is why Spielberg is so well respected in today's film industry.

There is nothing fancy about the way this film was shot. They use a variety of wide panning shots, but they utilize them so well that it's even better than using fancy shots. The cinematography is meant to suit the film and it does. The camera acts as your eyes and lets you witness the full experience. They don't crop anything out or hide anything from you. Spielberg doesn't want to do that. Instead, he shows you everything you want and need and that makes all the difference.

Dreyfuss plays Roy Neary, a family man who is one of the first people to witness the UFO's. When he spots the UFO's is also the first time he meets Jillian (Melinda Dillon) and her son Cary (Barry Guiler). The three of them quickly start to form a bond as they realise that something from their encounter has changed them. They start getting visions in their head of an object. Everything reminds them of this object but no one knows what it is. Things start to deteriorate as Cary is abducted by the UFO and Jillian quickly descends into madness. Roy's descent into madness also begins, but it's portrayed in a very different way.

We start to notice things are amiss in Roy's family when he begins sculpting something out of his mashed potatoes. Silence ensues for the following minute as his family realises what is going on. No words are spoken and no one moves a muscle, but tears begin to flow from Roy's son and it is one of the rawest scenes I have ever had the pleasure of watching. “Well I guess you've noticed something a little strange with daddy” is the first line of dialogue said to break the tension. One of the best scenes in cinema out there.

The last hour of the film is really what made it for me. The first half is full of exposition and wonderful connection between characters. However, the second half is when we get to experience Spielberg's vision for his film at the peak. I didn't write any notes during the second half of the film. I couldn't write any. All I wanted to do was watch the movie. It was so rewarding and so beautiful. The special effects still hold up 40 years later. The acting is some of the best I've ever seen, and the way Spielberg has created this film is astounding.

Joseph Logelin
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